BER launches Environmental System Science Program. Visit our new website under construction!

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Evaluation of Cloud Properties and Precipitation for Stratiform and Convective Simulations
Published: April 23, 2012
Posted: February 14, 2013

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) researchers continue to test the performance of model cloud microphysics, or the way droplets and ice crystals form, evolve, and precipitate in models. Microphysics parameters influence cloud evolution and climate conditions and the complex schemes require extensive and ongoing testing against observations. Simulations of frontal stratiform precipitation events are sensitive to the representation of snow in the cloud microphysics parameterization, while convective precipitation events are mainly sensitive to the representation of the largest rimed (ice-coated) ice species, either graupel (cold ice-water condensed on a snow crystal) or hail (ball of dense layered ice). DOE scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory and their collaborators performed model microphysics sensitivity experiments of the representation of snow and rimed ice species for two composites of 15 stratiform and 15 convective observed precipitation events. Cloud properties and surface precipitation characteristics of all events were rigorously evaluated against satellite- and radar-derived observations. Simulations that include graupel and a temperature-dependent snow parameter during both convective and stratiform events yielded results that consistently agreed better with satellite observations. The enhanced ice depositional growth rates in these experiments led to significantly improved cloud-top heights. Compared to previous model experiments, surface precipitation was less sensitive to whether graupel or hail was chosen as the rimed ice species. However, capturing peak precipitation rates required including graupel in the microphysics scheme. This study used precipitation and cloud observations to constrain and improve the requirements for cloud microphysical schemes for both convective and stratiform cloud modeling.

Reference: Van Weverberg, K., N. van Lipzig, L. Delobbe, and A. Vogelmann. 2012: "The Role of Precipitation Size Distributions in Km-Scale NWP Simulations of Intense Precipitation: Evaluation of Cloud Properties and Surface Precipitation," Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society 138, 2163-81. DOI: DOI:10.1002/qj.1933. (Reference link)

Contact: Dorothy Koch, SC-23.1, (301) 903-0105, Ashley Williamson, SC-23.1, (301) 903-3120
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling
  • Research Area: Atmospheric System Research

Division: SC-33.1 Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, BER


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Mar 23, 2021
Molecular Connections from Plants to Fungi to Ants
Lipids transfer energy and serve as an inter-kingdom communication tool in leaf-cutter ants&rsqu [more...]

Mar 19, 2021
Microbes Use Ancient Metabolism to Cycle Phosphorus
Microbial cycling of phosphorus through reduction-oxidation reactions is older and more widespre [more...]

Feb 22, 2021
Warming Soil Means Stronger Microbe Networks
Soil warming leads to more complex, larger, and more connected networks of microbes in those soi [more...]

Jan 27, 2021
Labeling the Thale Cress Metabolites
New data pipeline identifies metabolites following heavy isotope labeling.

Analysis [more...]

Aug 31, 2020
Novel Bacterial Clade Reveals Origin of Form I Rubisco

  • All plant biomass is sourced from the carbon-fixing enzyme Rub [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)